COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Two children and a staff member from the Ransom Head Start Center in Reigelwood remain in the hospital Wednesday after their school bus was hit by a semi truck. A FedEx truck then hit the school bus causing it to flip three times.
The wreck happened on Highway 74-76 in Columbus County Tuesday morning.
The semi-truck driver, Daniel Musick from Statesville, is charged with with failing to reduce speed and more charges could be coming. Authorities say Musick reached down to pick up a cigarette just before hitting the bus.
Calandra Cottingham is the bus monitor and remains at New Hanover Regional Medical Center Wednesday night with fractures to her spine, ribs and collarbone. She also suffered a head injury that required stitches.
Cottingham said the bus was stopped to pick up a child when the crash happened. She was standing by the door while the eight children on board were buckled into their seats.
“We were on the bus doing a passenger stop and all of a sudden the driver said ‘oh my God’ and then everything went so fast, it was like a blur,” Cottingham recalled.
She does not remember the bus flipping, but does remember being outside of the bus after the crash.
“Next thing I know, I was stumbling off the bus and this lady came to me and she told me to just lay down. I guess I was bleeding so bad she just told me to lay down. And I can hear the children on the bus, they were crying, wanting their mama. The ones that were sitting down next to me on the ground, I tried to calm them as best as I could,” she said.
Cottingham said Ransom Head Start Center conducts school bus safety drills monthly and the children had practiced one the day before the crash.
“I was just hoping they’d be ok. Every day when we get on the bus I help them put their seat belts on. I tell them keep their seat belts on until we get to the school," she said. “I guess that helped because they did good, they did good. Considering the situation, they did good.”
Cottingham is expected to be discharged from New Hanover Regional Medical Center on Thursday.
“It’s a blessing that we all alive today,” she said.